Sprawl in the Family
Regarding Alan Prendergast's "The Sprawlful Truth," in the January 14 issue:
What is it about the American West that makes us so impervious to experience? California ought to be a lesson emblazoned on our noggins: single-family housing, no mass transit, arterial and freeway traffic jams, horrifying strip malls--the whole catastrophe. So what do we do? Well, we escape by moving to Colorado and creating the entire mess all over again. The state of Oregon actually grappled with this issue and came up with strict growth boundaries. Why? Because they love their state, not just their individual appetites and lifestyles. Do Coloradans love their state enough to do the same? Dream on.

Walter Hall
via the Internet

Alan Prendergast's story about growth around Superior read like sheer poetry. Too bad "The Sprawlful Truth" included such ugly truths about what is happening to our state.

John McFarlan

An Unhealthy Choice
Thank you for Stuart Steers's well-researched and well-written piece on Trish Nagel's Meridian nursing homes and her financial support of Bill Owens's campaign for governor ("Nursing a Grudge," January 7). This is journalism as it should be, alerting us to the relationship between campaign donations and nursing-home reform. Nagel's appointment to Governor Owens's transition team manifests an obvious conflict of interest. Please follow up and inform us of further actions and decisions of the transition team.

Dolores Curran

Here is my salute to Mr. Owens's inauguration, commenting on his unbelievably bad nomination for director of the health department, on which your excellent article throws considerable light. A bad nomination from a bad nominating committee.

Governor Bill Owens's appointment of Jane Norton to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is a shocking mistake. The appointee is described as an "executive" with the Medical Group Management Association and a graduate student at Regis. No area of public regulation I know is more turbulent and troubled than health care. Few areas of public regulation are more complex; fewer still involve higher monetary interests of stakeholders. To this arena, Mr. Owens sends a non-physician without public-health graduate training or state public-health experience.

The Medical Group Management Association, Ms. Norton's current affiliation (I know--I am a member and college fellow), has one principal function: protecting physicians' incomes. This does not constitute cognate experience. It is merely conservative networking. Ms. Norton does have previous appointments by Republican administrations, those of both Reagan and Bush. I cannot remember a clearer case of an unqualified political appointee.

What this means for our state health policy is very simple: weak administrative leadership. This leaves the existing stakeholders--physicians, hospital systems, nursing homes and insurance companies--without significant regulatory leadership. This is what the health system players want--standard conservative laissez-faire--and if Colorado citizens do not object, this is what we will get.

Our public health department needs strong, qualified leadership. If we don't get it, the field will continue to be dominated by people who feel their enormous financial stake entitles them to dictate public policy. As a member of the Colorado Trauma Advisory Council Facility Designation Committee (1996-1998), I watched this happen under administrative leadership that was weak by design. Public-health policy will get worse, at the worst possible time.

Governor Owens needs to find someone qualified.
Michael M. Kiley

It appears that new Governor Bill Owens has started his tenure as a political leader for Colorado with a clear message to average Coloradans. By soliciting thousands of dollars in corporate money to fund his inaugural ball, it is growing very clear where his priorities will lie in fugure decision-making.

It's vitally important that all Colordans participate in our political process, but where is the line drawn when special access to our elected officials is limited to big-money corporate contributors? It appears that our new governor has already decided that he is for sale to the highest bidders.

Janie Hartung

Copping a Plea
I am responding to Tony Perez-Giese's article, "Don't Call the Cops," published in the January 7 issue. As a longtime employee of the DVAMC on a locked psychiatric unit, I am grateful for the VA police. I have called them on a regular basis. They are polite but firm. Without them, there would be numerous people injured or dead.

There are also a number of staff members, at various levels in different departments, who are mentally impaired.

I am not a girlfriend to any of these officers.
Beverly Wright-Alley

Names Will Never Hurt Us
Congratulations on the addition of Dan Savage to your paper! His column is a refreshing mix of politics, philosophy and, of course, sex, sex and more sex! Why don't you move his column up to the front of your newspaper? I'd rather read about blow jobs than suffer through another one of Patricia Calhoun's columns.

Kenn Stafford
via the Internet

I'd be willing to bet Westword would not publish a letter, regardless of context, addressed to C****, S*** or N*****. Why, then, is it okay to publish "Dear Faggot" in "Savage Love" letters?

Tolerance of the language of bigotry, especially in the name of free speech, is why we live in such a racist, misogynistic (how about that KBPI ad in the January 14 issue?), homophobic society. I'm hopeful that this is a serious lapse of judgment, not a trend in Westword's content. If it were a trend, I would never pick up another issue and would encourage everyone else to do the same.

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